Debate:How should we view the fact leading scientists do not believe in God?

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With the leading scientists of America (I believe the British numbers are even higher), professing non-belief to a huge majority. And masses of scientists from leading universities of America having a massively increased chance of being agnostic/atheistic, what lessons should we take from the fact that the supposedly best educated (and most likely highly intelligent also), have decided that god either doesn't exist, or at the least has no positive evidence? http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/news/file002.html http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=3341576

Perhaps one thing could be a feeling of pressure from other scientists to disclaim god? However personally I don't think that this could fully explain these results to any degree. Raggs 06:30, 28 February 2008 (EST)

I think that this is the result of evolutionary indoctrination for the last century or so. Despite many Christians claiming that the Bible and evolution are not incompatible, I believe that it's clear that evolution (supposedly) does away with the need for God. Add to that the peer pressure that you mentioned, and other factors, and I think it can be easily explained.
In any case, your point is a fallacious argument from authority. Evolutionary scientists keep telling us that creation is unscientific because it invokes a supernatural agent that is beyond the ability of science to study, which, if nothing else, means that these scientists cannot be authorities on the subject. So invoking them as some sort of authority is, as I said, a fallacious argument from authority.
Philip J. Rayment 06:57, 28 February 2008 (EST)
I don't believe evolution does away with the need for god, however it does indeed attempt to refute the idea of a young earth (but then many other older beliefs do this previously, evolution merely attempts to fill in the gaps of an already presumed old earth). If you believe an old earth scenario, then evolution does not necessarily do away with god.
As for your argument about not being able to invoke them as an authority, I do it less from the idea of them being scientists, but more from the idea that these are people who are exceptionally intelligent. They not only have a wealth of knowledge from memory, but also have an ability to understand concepts and the application of these concepts, those in the top science academic groups are also those that can often use the concepts in new ways, invent new concepts, or bring together different concepts. They are very likely some of the most intelligent people, and have an overwhelming disbelief.
Indoctrination of evolution just disproves a YEC view. And a lot of christians (and jews since they use the old testament too), do not see this as the truth, and that the Old Earth scenario is the truth (regardless of what is stated in the bible). So since in the majority, old earth and belief of god (be it from merely a first cause god, a tinkering god etc etc), is the common belief, I do not believe that evolution alone can be used as this explaination. I agree that evolution can be used to help people disbelieve in god, it doesn't do it sufficiently to any thinking man (and that is certainly what these men are). It doesn't attempt to answer abiogenesis, the beginnings of the world, etc etc, and even if you accept evolution to a large point, there are stages that still raise questions, like how did humans become so successful, complex animals from multicelluar clumps of bacteria etc. These are not gentlemen to just take things on faith for the most part (possibly the problem?).
Perhaps my last point leads us to another possible answer? The scientific method is one of purely naturalistic causes, it has to be they are the only things testable by us. Perhaps after a lifetime of living a life such as this it just leads you to believing in only the natural? The reason the top scientists have the highest incidence of atheism is because they are the people who have followed the doctrines of science so rigorously for so long?
Raggs 07:13, 28 February 2008 (EST)
No, evolution does not do away with the need for "a god", or as you put it, a "first cause", but it does, as you indirectly indicate, do away with the need for the God of the Bible, which is the only real candidate that many would consider (in western society at least).
The problem with your argument that you use scientists from the point of them being exceptionally intelligent is that science was founded (<-- read that if you disagree) in a Christian (creationary) world view, and most of the early scientists, in many cases the founders of various scientific fields, were creationists. The point is that these blokes were also "exceptionally intelligent", and not only did this not cause them to reject creation, their Christian (creationary) beliefs were the basis for their science. So what changed? Did the scientists after them become more intelligent? Or did the ruling paradigm change to an evolutionary one? The latter is the case, although in saying that I acknowledge that it is not just evolution, but the entire naturalistic view. The idea of a Earth much older than the biblical record describes did come before Darwinian evolution, so it wasn't evolution per se that was the problem, but evolution did provide much of the justification for rejection of the creationary view.
I dispute that the scientists are not ones to take things on faith. Microbes-to-man evolution has never been observed, yet they take it on faith that such evolution has occurred.
Philip J. Rayment 07:31, 28 February 2008 (EST)
Views have changed on many things in science as more knowledge has become available. I have no arguments whatsoever that the greatest scientists up until fairly recently have been creationists (young earth or old earth). It was the priesthood in victorian times that really advanced science. Sons of rich men took to the clergy and pottered around in their country villages etc observing stuff. Darwin had been fascinated with beetles and naturalism, long before he started training for the clergy (didn't find any new species, but did get the first recording of a species in england). He was training to become a priest until he stepped onto that ship, he was a big supporter of Paley. He spent 10 years after returning to england fighting with himself about his idea, knowing what implications it could lead to. Previous priests had studied geology and come up with the concept of deep time, although they were uncomfortable with this, since it disagreed with what their beliefs were, they couldn't just dismiss the evidence of their eyes. Evolution seemed to give a helpful encouragement to help push this deep time, supporting it, and in turn being supported by it.
Another nice bit of trivia is that Newton, recognised by a lot as a superb scientist, spent the majority of his life not on good scientific discovery, but working on alchemy, attempting to turn lead into gold. You think he'd practice alchemy these days? Maybe fusion/fission. More knowledge = changing of opinions.
I'm trying to point out that just because the majority of scientists beleived one thing at one point, doesn't mean much. Primate specialists believed chimps were vegetarian, they also beleived pottos and lorises were all very slow-moving, where in fact it's just not true. I'm sure we could both supply a lot more examples of scientific consensus changing when new evidence is supplied.
Scientists didn't become more intelligent, but they did gain more information.
Is it faith if they believe that whilst they haven't seen it occur, they believe the explaination is sufficient for it to be possible? The first designs of many many machines on paper do not show the actual machine working, but someone capable of understanding the design should be able to see if and how it would be possible for the machine to work.
We are diverging a little from the topic here, but I believe it's all part of the discussion. Scientists have been indoctrinated into atheism. But I wonder, how exactly did the scientific community change from a creationism view, to that of an atheistic evolutionary one, unless a majority of scientist accepted evolution and old earth on their merits (sufficient to overturn previously held beliefs) in order to be able to pressurize the rest into this view?
Raggs 07:54, 28 February 2008 (EST)
"Views have changed on many things in science as more knowledge has become available." and "Scientists didn't become more intelligent, but they did gain more information.": True, they did gain more knowledge, but you've already claimed that this is not about their expertise in the subject, but their intelligence. This argument about having more knowledge is a reversion to the "scientists as an authority" argument that I rejected and which you said was not your point.
"Previous priests had studied geology and come up with the concept of deep time, although they were uncomfortable with this, since it disagreed with what their beliefs were, they couldn't just dismiss the evidence of their eyes.": No, "deep time" was not based on the evidence, but on the assumption of uniformitarianism.
Newton actually spent most of his time on theology. But yes, I think you are correct in saying that he did spend time with alchemy as well.
"I'm trying to point out that just because the majority of scientists beleived one thing at one point, doesn't mean much.": Which misses the point that you said that your argument was about their intelligence, not their knowledge of the subject.
"Is it faith if they believe that whilst they haven't seen it occur, they believe the explaination is sufficient for it to be possible?": Yes. Faith is trust based on evidence. If they have supporting evidence, then the trust may be warranted.
"...how exactly did the scientific community change from a creationism view, to that of an atheistic evolutionary one, unless a majority of scientist accepted evolution and old earth on their merits (sufficient to overturn previously held beliefs) in order to be able to pressurize the rest into this view?": Some of the main proponents of evolution were ardent atheists, and not necessarily scientists, and in any case scientists are fallible human beings who have their own beliefs, and are not always following the scientific method. To be more specific, this issue, unlike most other disputes in science, goes to the core of what people believe about who they are and whether or not they are answerable to their Creator. Obviously they are not answerable if there is no creator, and this is what many people, including scientists, want. The pseudo-scientific theory of evolution appears to give them justification for rejecting God, and this is a large part of the reason why evolution came to be accepted.
Philip J. Rayment 18:14, 28 February 2008 (EST)

The reason the prevailing world view among the intelligent scientists changed from creation to evolution was simply that when evolutionary theory came along it provided a much better explanation than the old theory. Better in the key sense that it is more parsimonious. The theory of evolution convinced so many scientists, so quickly, because it makes very few assumptions, and explains far more than it assumes. Creationist beliefs are the opposite: a great deal is assumed, very little is explained. And of course "microbes-to-man evolution has never been observed" - it takes about 3 billion years for that to occur, and we've only been watching for a few hundred. That it has occurred is not an item of faith, but a simple extrapolation from observed evolution in the laboratory and in the field, backed up by a robust set of genetic mechanisms. Humblpi 07:40, 28 February 2008 (EST)

Most of that post is simply assertion. When Darwin proposed it, much of it's opposition came from scientists, so I'm not sure that they were convinced that quickly. Of course it has never been observed—but as it hasn't been, then it's taken on faith. The "extrapolation" may have sounded reasonable in Darwin's time, but genetics actually shows that the extrapolation is invalid. All the observed mechanisms for variation do not introduce new genetic information, but tend to destroy it. Yet scientists "extrapolate" from this destruction of information to generation of information! That's not extrapolation—that's blind faith (i.e. faith contrary to the evidence). Philip J. Rayment 07:59, 28 February 2008 (EST)
I have to disagree here - genetic variation rarely introduces or destroys genetic information - it, more accurately, mangles it. Usually you get two results - missense and nonsense. Missense is something that reads incorrectly - usually something small, like a substitution of one base pair for another. It can have no effect, or be harmful or beneficial. Then there's nonsense. Nonsense is when the resulting genetic code is totally, completely unreadable. This usually occurs when you get a frameshift mutation - since genes are read in codons of 3s, adding one or two base pairs or deleting one or two will 'shift' every single base pair down the chain. This results in more dire genetic disorders. Now, how this relates to evolution: missense is actually a good thing: it can introduce new alleles (variations of a gene - usually just dominant/recessive) into a population, add new genetic strings, duplicate a chromosome, etc. So long as it doesn't result in that organism being infertile or dying, it will cause a change that can be compounded in its successors. Lots of evolutionary trends can be explained by gross mutations that, by a quirk of luck, did not end up killing the organism. The best example I can think of is the duplication of the hox gene (a homeobox gene; it determines how body segments develop) in invertebrates. As you go from invertebrate to vertebrate, you find more and more copies of the hox gene; invertebrates have one, simple vertebrates have two, vertebrates with seperate, complex jaws have three. These large mutations, when they don't kill the mutant, can be passed on and slowly, gradually edited via trial and error until you have an astonishingly interesting result. The best example of genetic information being "introduced" and resulting in a beneficial (to the organism) evolution are antibacterial resistant disease strains; bacteria reproduce at an incredibly fast rate, and as such a bacterial population has quite a few different mutations and alleles in its gene pool at any given time. As such, when you expose the population to waves of antibiotics, the tiny fraction of bacteria that survive by a combination of luck and good genetics pass these genetic changes onto their offspring. Not only this, but bacteria can also pass the genetic changes on to other, non-related bacteria by conjugation and plasmid exchange. Anyways...Yeah. Kinda run out of steam, but there's a shortish explanation of the mechanisms I believe power evolution.--Reasonless 00:50, 24 March 2008 (EDT)
I don't see where the "assertion" is. I'm probably wrong about "quickly", I concede, but the fact is that evolution has been accepted, and for the reasons I state. Plus of course the evidence in the form of fossils. Humblpi 08:16, 28 February 2008 (EST)
Your first four sentences are nothing but assertion. And how are fossils evidence in support of evolution? Philip J. Rayment 18:14, 28 February 2008 (EST)
Fossils are supporting evidence for evolution in that they show a rich history of different species of animal. There are also many types of 'linking' fossils that show the evolution of various species, for example walruses, horses and rhinocerus's (is it rhinoceri or rhinocerus's?). They show how these animals evolved from other rather different, earlier species. Various forms of carbon dating and other such types of dating show these fossils to be linear such as pro-sauropods into sauropods, or diverging in the case of birds and raptors. There are too many types of fossils to be explained by 'failed creation' or 'flood extinctions', and in any case, dating shows them to be much much older than 6000 years.
Fossils do not prove evolution but the provide corroberating evidence. Bolly 20:37, 10 March 2008
"Fossils are supporting evidence for evolution in that they show a rich history of different species of animal.": In order to "support evolution", the evidence (fossils in this case) has to favour one view over another. Creation also predicts a "rich history of different species of animal[s]", so fossil are not support for evolution (over creation) in that respect.
"There are also many types of 'linking' fossils that show the evolution of various species, for example walruses, horses and rhinocerus's...": Not according to people like Stephen Jay Gould, Colin Patterson, and David Raup.
"They show how these animals evolved from other rather different, earlier species.": They show no such thing. Being able to arrange objects in a sequence that supports your theory doesn't mean that they "show" that that's what actually happened. That's a case of reading the interpretation into the evidence.
"Various forms of carbon dating and other such types of dating ...": Carbon dating is unable to date back far enough to show any such thing for the examples you gave. And all such dating methods are unreliable (with some exceptions with carbon dating) and often presume the biblical history to be wrong a priori, so cannot then be used to support the evolutionary view over the creationary view.
"There are too many types of fossils to be explained by 'failed creation'...": Huh? What's that?
"...or 'flood extinctions...": How are there "too many"?
"...and in any case, dating shows them to be much much older than 6000 years.": See above about the unreliability of the dating methods.
"Fossils do not prove evolution but the provide corroberating evidence": They also provide corroborating evidence for creation and the Flood.
Philip J. Rayment 07:50, 10 March 2008 (EDT)
Actually, I'd say fossils pretty well _DIS_Prove the Whole Silly Flood Story. If all those animals really had died at once, you'd expect they'd be a lot more mixed-up, with whales and stonefish next to trilobites and Devonian fishes, instead of being neatly arranged in strata, with the animals that the Evil Liberal Science Conspiracy tells us are the oldest at the bottom, and more recently-evolved ones higher up. --Gulik5 23:45, 16 April 2008 (EDT)
So you know enough about flood geology to know the processes involved well enough to make predictions about how things would be buried? The ones at the bottom are generally the ones that lived on the bottom of the seas and would have been buried first. Philip J. Rayment 09:09, 17 April 2008 (EDT)
Actually, I'd expect the first ones to be buried would be LAND ANIMALS, who can't swim. But instead we find invertebrate water-dwelling animals at the bottom-most layers, with the vertebrate fish appearing further up, then the amphibians, then the reptiles, THEN mammals. A result that looks to me like it makes more sense from an evolution-based model than a Genesis-based one. Go read the article I pointed to, it goes into a LOT more detail than I can. --Gulik5 00:08, 18 April 2008 (EDT)
Massive undersea landslides have been noted travelling at high speeds that quickly bury anything in their paths, whether they can swim or not. Land animals could initially escape to higher ground before being buried, particularly the larger, more mobile animals, whilst amphibians and reptiles, which can't move as fast, would be buried sooner.
As far as your linked article is concerned, it has so many misrepresentations in the first two paragraphs that I didn't bother reading any further.
Philip J. Rayment 23:19, 21 April 2008 (EDT)
Wait, wait. These undersea landslides move so fast that nothing can escape them.... escept the things that moved to higher ground. Which is why we find Devonian-era giant dragonflies in the same strata as modern birds.... oh, wait. No we don't.
I am totally unsurprised you didn't read it. --Gulik5 18:43, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

One can believe in evolution and God. If we look at the theory of evolution, it is widely believed that life started from extremely simple almost non-living organisms in the thermal vents of the oceans. Who created these thermal vents? Who created the earth? Who created the sun? who created the solar system? Who created anything and everything in our universe? There has to be something. Evolution could just be a part of the way things happen. The same way an egg hatches or ice melts. It's all science. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jmela09 (talk)

See here Philip J. Rayment 23:19, 21 April 2008 (EDT)
Okay. Now, how does one go about scientifically testing for God? --Gulik5 18:43, 23 April 2008 (EDT)
It is not possible to test for God. The only thing people have is what they read and are taught. For all we know, God may have been produced to explain the unexplainable, to take away some of the natural curiousity that comes with human nature. People have the need to believe that there is something more to life than just what we sense. We need a reason for what we do in this life and most humans need the comfort of knowing that there is a place for them when they die. Whether you believe or not, God is the only thing we have to explain the creation of our surroundings. Science is what we have to explain the ways of our surroundings. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jmela09 (talk)
I missed Gulik5' question. My answer would be contained in Essay: Accuracy vs. neutrality on Conservapedia, the section about "Proving God", although that assumes you've read the sections prior to that.
Jmela09, I think you go too far the other way, seeming to say that we have no way of knowing. Also, it overlooks the possibility that perhaps the "need to believe" is because God created us that way. Why, otherwise, is there a need to believe?
Philip J. Rayment 19:36, 25 April 2008 (EDT)
This is very possible, however, how can we explain the origin of the "need to believe"? What scientific evidence do we have? It seems God is proven by the individual and not by science. Some people believe their whole life and others begin believing when they feel the "need to believe". What triggers this "need to believe"? I think it has to do with the way you view your life and experiences. The people that believe are the people that feel God has somehow touched their life or society. The idea of God is very personal and can only be explained by the individual. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jmela09 (talk)
I would think that everyone has a "need to believe", but some satisfy, at least partially, that need with other answers. It is true that many people believe in God for purely personal reasons, but it's false to say that personal feeling is the only basis for belief. God can be deduced logically, and quite a few people have come to believe in God not because of personal experience or feelings, but because of the overwhelming evidence. See also my Essay: Accuracy vs. neutrality on Conservapedia, down to the section about proving God. Philip J. Rayment 11:12, 29 April 2008 (EDT)

Economists and people invloved in the Medical field are some of the most intelligent people in our country and they are more likely to believe in God then people of other academic fields, also most professors believe in God-- 50 star flag.png User:Deborah (contributions) (talk) 18:49, 23 April 2008 (EDT)

It is not relelvant to some poeple. Personally I believe in the evolution theory and God at the same time. I think that there is already enough evidence to support the evolution theory. But I follow God's teachings on life, not where life came from. Please do not be offended but there is no evidence of God's existence. It is only a matter of faith. But for "scientific" topics like evolution I think I'd rather believe in science. Disagree?--Faizaguo 12:42, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

I'd say that God's existence is relevant to everyone, although not of interest to some people. Which "God" do you believe in? It can't be the God of the Bible, as that God is inconsistent with evolution. And if you don't believe what God said about where life came from, why believe His other teachings? If He got one part wrong, why think that He got another part right? As for no evidence for God's existence, don't be offended, but you are quite wrong. The very fact that we exist is evidence for God's existence, as naturalism, the only alternative, has no coherent explanation for it (the Big Bang: First there was nothing, then it exploded!). Claiming that evolution is science is begging the question, as science is about observing, testing, and repeating, things, none of which can be done with molecules-to-man evolution. Rather, evolution is a story about the past, a claim about history, not science. Philip J. Rayment 23:29, 18 June 2008 (EDT)

I think it's just that the scientists who do not believe in God have the thinking that if you can't see it, then it can't be real, or that they lack the depth of thought to actually believe in something. It is almost like they are intimidated by something that they can not grasp or fully understand. Either that or they don't have the full facts on the Bible and the evidence supporting it. --IndigoiMac 12:33, 27 June 2008 (EDT)

First of all, it is necessary to establish a difference between "believing in God" and "believing in what is the true God according to the Bible as it is interpreted by Christians". You can believe in God while denying the literal account of the Bible is true. Many people, including some scientists, do this. That being said, anyone who DID believe the literal account of the Bible was 100% true would almost certainly not be a scientist since doing so would force them to contradict their own beliefs. So it doesn't surprise me that leading scientists don't believe in the literal Bible any more than it should surprise me that Hindu priests don't. Science is these scientists' "religion" (which I use in a looser sense of the word than usual, to simply refer to any belief system whether there is a higher power involved or not). That is what they believe in. So this should really not be a surprise. Gregkochuconn 13:52, 23 June 2011 (EDT)
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